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Birth injury » Premature births

Children born before the full term of pregnancy are known as premature and are often transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit of a hospital for specialist care and treatment.

Although this greatly increases the childs chance of healthy development, complications are common and, if not properly treated, can result in a birth injury. This can happen as a result of medical negligence when carrying out medical procedures, because of bugs in the environment or simply because the unit or the hands of a nurse are not clean enough.

What is a premature birth?
A premature birth is when a mother gives birth before the end of the normal period of pregnancy - earlier than 37 completed weeks of gestation. The normal period of pregnancy ranges from 37 to 42 weeks and a birth that occurs between 20 and 37 weeks is said to be premature.

A premature delivery can have serious implications for the baby, whose incomplete development increases the chance of suffering an injury during childbirth. Premature children are found to be 50% more likely to die in birth accidents than full-term babies.

The shorter the pregnancy, the more it becomes likely that there will be complications at birth. Children born prematurely have an increased risk of death in the first year of their life, and the causes of a premature birth are still not fully understood.

Complications that can occur
Some organs, including the lungs, may not be fully developed in premature babies. This means that they cannot survive without medical help and if that medical help is not correctly given, it can result in serious injury. Hyaline membrane disease, also known as respiratory distress syndrome, is a lung disorder that can affect premature babies and which requires them to be supported by a respirator.

Some frequently seen birth complications in premature babies include sleep apnoea, difficulty eating and jaundice. All three conditions can be caused by an under-developed body and although these can present danger when the baby is very young, they will generally be outgrown in time.

Other problems that can arise in an intensive care unit include those caused by medical negligence. Medical professionals have to monitor premature babies very closely, including taking their temperature and checking whether they can digest food. If they fail to do this, the baby may suffer a serious personal injury.

Medical negligence can also result in a birth accident if any of the checks and procedures required to support babies in neonatal intensive care units - while on respirators for example - are not carried out correctly or with due diligence.

Bugs that build up around the units computer or technical equipment can also pose a threat to the babys health.

How to make a birth injury compensation claim

If you think your baby has suffered a birth injury as a result of medical negligence in an intensive care unit after a premature birth, our team of specially trained personal injury solicitors may well be able to help.

They have first-hand experience in dealing with birth accident cases and, as members of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, provide an outstanding service.

We understand and are sympathetic to your concerns, understand your distress and will support you through the claims process with free legal advice and expert assistance.

If you would like free legal advice about making a birth injury claim, please call us now on 01582 437070 for further assistance and guidance.